The SPN Community Garden
Community agriculture in a southern NSW town
Take the right road, follow the right turns, and tucked away in the backblocks of Nowra you will find the (Shoalhaven Permaculture Network) SPN Community Garden.
The garden occupies land on the edge of a large block owned by a religious organisation, There, on the edge of the bush, are garden beds sprouting with pumpkin, beans, tomato, corn and so much more.
This is the work of the Shoalhaven Permaculture Network, SPN, a group that believes life is better when you eat what you grow.
Like a rampant bean vine
Like a rampant bean vine, community gardening is showing vigourous growth. It’s growth that began to pick up speed in the late 1990s and has grown ever since. Its current growth spurt started perhaps a decade ago. In that 20 or so years community gardening has spread from an activity of the social fringe into the social mainstream. Now, it spans town and city, age group and social class.
The existence of a community garden in a small southern NSW regional city attests to how far community gardening has come in the 23 years since the Australian City Farms & Community Gardens Network was born at a seminar at Randwick Community Centre in Sydney.
Having local and state government as well as communities recognise community gardening as a valid urban landuse was a goal of the Network, a goal which it accomplished. Where there was once none there are now local government policies to enable community gardening. The popularity of this community-based form of urban agriculture attracts coverage in magazines, television, radio and online media.
A fortunate find
None could have been happier at finding the SPN Community Garden than community gardens network membership coordinator, Jane Mowbray, when she quit the city for life in Nowra.
Jane has for years been an establishing presence at Glovers Garden in the inner-urban suburb of Lilyfield, in Sydney, NSW’s first community garden dating back to 1985. There, she learned of the trials and tribulations, the joys and opportunities of gardening in the convivial company of others, and of taking responsibility for a patch or urban land. Now, she shares her knowledge with the SPN crew.
The photos that follow show life in the garden, both vegetable, and human. View Russ’ photo essay…